Updated: Sep 28, 2021
After starting this business in 2019, I desperately wanted to provide a product that was missing from the market in the Intermountain West: a locally-sourced, 100% native wildflower seed mix.
Many of the wildflower seed mixes that are commercially available in nurseries and grocery stores are labeled as native, but have non-native or even invasive species to cut the mix to bring down costs. Cynoglossum amabile, Chinese forget-me-not, is a wildflower that is native to central Asia and is regularly used in pollinator mixes. While it is beautiful, it does tend to escape from gardens and becomes a persistent weed in the community. Additionally, pollinators visit this flower, but a native Utah bee wouldn't have a symbiotic relationship to a flower that originates on the other side of the world. Consider an alternative: a native forget-me-not that has evolved within ecological communities within Utah, like Hackelia micanthra, meadow forget-me-not, or Eritrichium nanum, arctic alpine forget-me-not.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to source native seeds, especially in Utah where wild native plants have a reputation of being "weeds" or are considered "ugly" in comparison to showy cultivars that are widely available in large nurseries. That being said, I was able to come up with a seed mix that features showy native wildflowers that are a proven hit with pollinators and "poor" soil that is prevalent in Utah.
I feel that these wildflowers represent the best parts of Utah: resilience, beauty and hope for a brighter future. I consider all of them my friends that cheer me up during my long weeks in the field under the hot summer sun. As this mix has a variety of annuals and perennials, you will find that some of these friends won't make a dramatic appearance for a couple of years. I have a 3 tips to help the wait feel a bit shorter:
#1. Be patient: long-lasting relationships that are healing our environment takes time.
#2. Be on the lookout for introduced and invasive species that can be used at home for food or herbal remedies (check out my "Eat the Invasives" Plant Guide for more information!). Finding plants that pioneer ancestors brought that have crowded out their neighbors, limited traditional food & medicine pathways and reduced pollinators is one way to support indigenous sovereignty within our communities.
#3. Be Mindful: It is the perfect time to practice relationships (plant identification & learning plant ecology) with your annual wildflowers and other plants that already exist within your community.
These are the 10 wildflowers that made the cut for "Abbottanical Native Wildflower Seeds" Mix:
Penstemon palmeri (Palmer's penstemon) is a perennial light-pink snapdragon look-alike that is widespread in Utah between 3,000 and 8,000 ft. Peak flowering times occur in late-April through mid-June. It is also one of the few penstemon that have a scent.
Photo courtesy of Stan Shebs via Wikimedia Commons.
Linium lewisii (Blue Flax) is a showy blue perennial that is native to North America and can be found along roadsides and washes. This plant can be used as fiber and is a popular favorite for pollinators. Peak flowering time is from early-May to mid-July between 2,000 and 10,000 feet. It loves full-sun and birds love to snack on its seeds through fall and winter.
Photo courtesy of Skoch3 via Wikimedia Commons.
Cleome serrulata (Rocky Mountain Beeplant, waa', tumi, a'pilalu & ado:we) is a prolific native wildflower in North America. An annual with vivid pink or creamy white blossoms, it has numerous ethnobotanical uses and attracts innumerable pollinators. It flowers between late-July and early-September at elevations between 2,000 and 8,000 feet. Photo courtesy of Clarence A. Rechenthin via Wikimedia Commons. Distribution Map
Balsamorhiza sagittata (Arrowleaf Balsamroot) is a large yellow flower and a member of the sunflower family found in western North America. Perennial and full of ethnobotanical uses, it attracts native pollinators to your garden. Flowering between mid-May through June and thrives in elevations up to 8,000 feet. Photo courtesy of Extemporalist via Wikimedia Commons.
Gaillardia aristata (Common Blanketflower), a perennial native wildflower that has multiple ethnobotanical uses. Usually found in seed mixes as a cultivar, but is locally-sourced seed in our mix that grows wild in fields and meadows within the Intermountain West. Flowers from June to July up to 8,000 feet. Photo courtesy of Walter Sigmund via Wikimedia Commons. Distribution Map
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), this is a popular perennial medicinal wildflower that is native to the central United States and is found within Colorado's native range. As it isn't strictly a Utah native plant, I debated adding it to the seed mix. However, its popularity and showiness as a native North American plant is tremendous. It is easily recognizable and heavily attracts native pollinators. I'm in the works on sourcing seeds from it's closely-related cousin Rudbeckia occidentalis (western coneflower) that is a native Utah wildflower for next season's seed mix. Photo courtesy of Eric Hunt via Wikimedia Commons. Distribution Map
Lupinus argenteus (Silvery Lupine) is a stunning perennial wildflower that grows across North America, including Utah. Despite its beauty, it is the only plant in this mix that isn't safe for consumption. It is safe to touch, but don't let children, livestock or pets consume it. If you don't want it in your garden, it is very easy to identify and remove before it becomes established. Flowering occurs during the summer (June through August) and thrives at elevations between 4,000 and 10,000 feet.
Photo courtesy of Morgan S. Abbott, Abbott Botanical Assessments.
Achillea millefollium (Yarrow) is a common wildflower that is extremely prevalent throughout North America and is starting to be incorporated into lawns and neighborhood gardens. Yarrow blooms from late-March into early-August, especially at lower elevations (0-2,000 feet). At higher elevations (4,000-10,000 ft), yarrow has a shorter blooming period, from mid-June to the end of August. This wildflower is considered native, but has been hybridizing with European cultivars for hundreds of years, blurring the line between native and naturalized.
Photo courtesy of Morgan S. Abbott, Abbott Botanical Assessments. Distribution Map
Sphaeralcea coccinea (Scarlet Globemallow), an ethnobotanical staple in the West, is a personal favorite of mine. It loves to grow in hot, dry places that have high rates of disturbance. Its red-orange blossoms can be found during May and June from 4,000 to 8,000 feet. A perfect wildflower for a south-facing side yard in Utah Valley.
Photo courtesy of Morgan S. Abbott, Abbott Botanical Assessments
Sphaeralcea parviflora (Smallflower Globemallow) was chosen for this mix because it is so prevalent in the Colorado Plateau and the Mojave Desert ecosystems. I wanted to include a plant that is quintessential to desert life and red rock. Also a dedication to people and places that are dear to me. The bloom time for this wildflower can be seen from late-April to early-July from 4,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation. Photo courtesy of Max Licher via SEINet Portal Network.
Propagation of "Abbottanical Native Wildflower Seeds"
These 5 steps are sourced from this website!
#1: Planting Time: This means plant right after the first hard frost. The recommended date would be on Halloween (October 31, 2021) if you're sowing around 4,800 feet.
#2: Prepare your site. Look for an area that has at least 6 hours of sun per day. Remove weeds and other unwanted materials. Wildflowers need room to grow!
#3: Sow. You can mix your seeds with sand for even distribution. Make sure to spread the seeds out so that they can thrive and not compete with each other for nutrients.
#4: Step on the seeds. Gently walk on the area that you sowed seeds. They need sun and will not germinate if they aren't stratified by cold weather.
#5: Hurry up and wait. You don't need to water seeds as they should receive enough precipitation in the winter. Blooms for annuals will appear in spring or early summer.
Where can I buy your seeds?
I sell seeds from my home in Spanish Fork, Utah, at a small farm run by Susie of Farm & Hive in Payson, Utah, and at Elevated Grounds in Lindon, Utah. I only sell seeds to people who are growing them in the Intermountain West (Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming). Seeds can be purchased via Venmo or with cash for $3.50/each or a 3-pack for $9. Shipping is only available for the 3-pack special for an additional $3.00. You can message me on Facebook or Instagram via @abbottanical or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org